NBC Uses Olympics to Promote Sitcom on Same-Sex Couple Seeking Surrogate-Hatched Child

By Elizabeth Harrington | August 7, 2012 | 6:43 PM EDT

Cast members of the new NBC show "The New Normal," about two gay men who use a surrogate mother to conceive a child and start a "new type of family." (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – NBC is using its coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games--programming sure to be watched by many children around the country--to promote a new sitcom about a same-sex couple seeking to have a child gestated for them by a surrogate mother.

NBC’s ads promoting “The New Normal,” and it story line about two homosexual men pondering hiring a women to have a baby on their behalf, reaches about 35.6 million viewers during Olympic broadcasts.

The network has enjoyed higher ratings than expected and the most of any other summer Olympics from outside the United States since the 1976 Montreal Games, according to the The New York Times.

“These days, families come in all forms -- single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors …. It's 2012 and anything goes,” states the show’s description on its website.

The story centers on a gynecologist doctor, David (played by Justin Bartha, star of the Hangover films), in a long-term relationship with his partner Bryan (played by Andrew Rannells, star of the Broadway show “The Book of Mormon”), who desperately wants a child.  Goldie (played by Georgia King), an aspiring lawyer and single mom with an eight-year-old daughter becomes the number one choice to carry the couple’s child.  Add Goldie’s “bigoted racist” grandmother (played by Ellen Barkin), uncomfortable with the situation, to the picture and the show’s pilot was born.

“The New Normal” is the latest project by Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “Nip/Tuck.”  The show premieres in the 9:30 p.m. primetime slot on Sept. 11.

“Different is the new normal as long-term couple Bryan and David look to create a new type of family,” is the narrative for the inaugural episode.

“You don't have to be related to be family -- different is the new normal!” boasts the show’s tagline.

In one promotional video featured on the show’s website, entitled “Redefining Traditional,” the two lead characters contemplate having a child.

“I don’t know, my dad screwed me up pretty good.  What do you think two dads would do to a kid?” asks David of his partner Bryan.  “Do you really think it’s such a good idea to bring a kid into the world with such a non-traditional family?”

“I know somebody else from a non-traditional family, a half-rican-American who was raised by a grandma,” says Bryan,  “and that person seems to be doing just fine.”

“Oh yeah, Barack Obama,” answers David.

“No, Mariah Carey.  But your example works, too,” Bryan says.  “Look around.  Your definition of traditional might need a refresh.”

Rannells, most known for his Tony-nominated performance in “The Book of Mormon,” the musical satire of the religion from the creators of “South Park,” said his hope is that viewers will simply see a love story.

“Everyone who watches it hopefully will be able to take away the fact that these are just two folks who are in love with each other who want to have a family,” said Rannells in a video interview with NBC. “And that’s kind of, you know, the root of this pilot -- certainly of this series -- is that we are just a family, we are just trying to have a family.”

Hollywood veteran Ellen Barkin, who plays Goldie’s “small-minded” grandmother, said the role is a big departure for her.  The actress, who recently tweeted, “I love everybody ... except u right wing f-----  morons,” described her character as a “bigot and a racist and harsh, like Archie Bunker.”

“For me it’s nice to play a character that is so far from who I am that I just like exploring that, trying to find some level of honesty in it,” she said in a video interview.  “Because it is a challenge to play a character like this.”

In one scene used to promote the show, Barkin’s character comments on a lesbian couple on a street corner: “Would you look at that?  Just strutting down the Buckeye Road in broad daylight, proud as gay peacocks.”

After her great-granddaughter questions her, she replies, “I happen to love the gays. I could never get my hair to look this good without them.”

“The New Normal” has capitalized on the Olympics by tying in promotional messages to the Summer games, with a “Swimming” and “Going for the Gold” spot.

The overall audience of the Olympics this year is up 13 percent from four years ago, with the coveted 18-49 aged bracket up 7 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter.